• Mark Mathews

The 6 interesting things I've learnt from 6 months of not drinking

As the clock struck midnight on the 1st January 2017, I embarked on living booze free. A big undertaking for me, being that I had a pretty loving relationship with the old girl that is booze! I wasn't a suffering alcoholic or anything, but I liked to party and I had been partying for quite some time.

Obviously, doing what I do, alcohol is never far from me so it was always easy to have a few cheeky ones here and there. Not only that, but being British means that every celebration, happening and meeting generally occurs amongst a back drop of alcohol. It's essentially a very tricky habit to avoid at the best of times, but especially when you are a drinker who doesn't ever really leave it at 'just the one'. I mean, I have Irish family - I could drink with the best of them, and often I did.

In the past I had flirted with the idea of stopping for a bit, but it wasn't until 2016 that I thought "enough is enough". I began to see that my productivity and creativity, which I rely upon to keep my music career going, was being severely hindered and sabotaged by my drinking. I was losing time, not only from being in the pub but through the long, intense hangovers and sleeping in afterwards. I was spending lots of money on the grog instead of investing it in equipment, recordings and promotion. Essentially, the dreams and goals I had set myself were not being fulfilled because I was holding myself back, and all roads led back to the liquor.

I also began to feel like I wasn't actually experiencing life. It's all well and good having a great night out, but if you can't actually remember a thing about it and it is only pieced together through stories that are regaled back to you the next day, then how much of that night have you really lived? I couldn't remember a time, since school, that I had been on a date without booze, performed live without a few drinks in me or dealt with some serious and upsetting news without using drink to numb the reality of it all. I wanted to see what I was made of - Could I handle these things after such a long time?

There was only one way to find out.

So, as Midnight came round and a new year began the juice stopped being squeezed for me. Since then not a drop has passed my lips. The experiment had begun and now, a little over 6 months later, I am still dry. Once I've made a decision I stick to it pretty strongly - probably a mild form of O.C.D. I'm kind of like the rain man of sobriety!

I never had a fixed date as to when I would go back to drinking, I just thought I'd stop and a day turned into a week, a week into a month and now here we are in July! I've still no idea if I will go back to it or not. There are moments when I feel like boozing would be a good idea, but more often than not these days I don't really consider it at all, so who knows.

Cut to me in the Good Mixer in Camden Town, hammered for comical effect!

No, for the time being I am still dry and I thought, as I have reached this milestone, it might be good to share some of the things I've noticed and have experienced since going tee-total.

Dating is hard

Straight off the bat, the main thing I've noticed is that dating is a lot harder. I can only speak for myself and of my own experiences, but it would appear that a lot of woman out there are not sure how to deal with someone who is not drinking. It is almost an alien concept, which if I am being brutally honest I kind of understand. If you go out on a date the go to option is to have drinks. Standard. So when that concept is taken off the table and the crutch that aids the success of the meet is taken away, there is a fear and/or panic about how it will go. Let me say, there are pretty limited options for dating in London if you don't booze. There's always someone that says why not go "Ice Skating" or take her to a zoo...Fuck that! Now, putting aside that I don't like Zoos and don't do ice skating, I've been on dates in the past where it has been apparent that there is nothing there from the get go. I do not want to therefore be stuck with said date on an "activity day"! For me a date is to suss each other out before you take that big step of commitment and go...to the, er, zoo.

It is a shame that there is a reluctance to dating 'dry' though and it is curious as to why that is so. I have been on dates where there has been nothing between us, but because of the alcohol it leads to something that is regretted the next day. The clarity makes these mishaps a thing of the past, which is surely a good thing, no?

You have loads more time

Boozing takes up a lot of time. Firstly, there is the drinking - You need to be spending hours in pubs, bars and clubs and this can sometimes (in my case) take up days. Then there is the aftermath: Hangovers, needing tons of sleep and the lack of any desire to do anything other than eat and watch brain dead TV. It wipes out a lot of that precious time you have.

On the flip side, not boozing means you cut all of that stuff out and so you are left with a hell of a lot of time to play with. You are up early EVERY SINGLE DAY! You have tons of energy and you find that you get more done in your mornings before 10am than most people do in their entire day. It's opened up a whole new world for me, where the list of things that I used to struggle to complete is actually feasible to accomplish. This has benefited me in many ways, especially with the #newmusiceverymonth project, which seems to take up every second of every day. If I was losing days to hangovers and such I'm not sure how this project would fair.

You have loads more cash

Bit of a no brainer here, but an absolute fact - By not spending cash on booze, which inevitably results in taxis and late night food etc, the healthiness of your bank balance returns ten fold! My finances are the best they have been in a long time, since I kicked the sauce. I actually have a strong, steady and healthy amount of money all the time that I am able to spend on things that actually help me and my career - Equipment, recordings, promo and all the rest of it.

One of the funniest things about this that I've noticed, is how I would query purchases of things that I may have needed, (or at the very least wanted), and yet I would have no qualms whatsoever about going out and spending upwards of £60 on drinks on an average week day night. It's insane! I feel more flush, because I am more flush because of the amount of money I've saved from not drinking. Now that is a good feeling to have.

Soda Water with fresh Lime/Lemon/Orange is delicious

When I do go out I need to have some kind of refreshment and my drink of choice is soda water with slices of fruit - Lemon, Lime, Orange or all three - Yeah, I know what you're thinking: Fucking crazy, right?! I drink this stuff by the pint and it's bloody addictive. Not the most rock n roll drink, for sure, and hey, as an anecdote it is about as boring as watching paint dry, but it is true and the truth is a good thing, right?!

You see what you were like when drunk - It's pretty annoying

It is true that the regularity of me going out to pubs has gone down, but there are still some nights that come up that I want to be a part of. I have, however, quickly learnt the most opportune time in a night that a sober person (Me) needs to leave and call it a night. It is the point at which interesting chatter becomes nonsensical shouting and varied and intriguing conversations become constantly repeated phrases and sound bites - And let me tell you, they are CONSTANTLY repeated! I had no idea how much drunk people repeated themselves. It's fucking annoying.

The golden time to leave (I've found) is between the hours of 11pm and 1am, dependent on how mashed up the group you are with are getting. If you time it wrong you are left with people who invade your personal space, spit when they talk, speak nonsense and repeat that nonsense increasing the decible level every time. As the boring sober person,(You get called this a lot when you stop boozing...pretty fair in many ways to be honest) you are able to see first hand what YOU were like when you drunk. It ain't pretty. By God it makes you wonder!

Life is a little less interesting

Yep, there are the health benefits, the cash benefits, the lack of horror at what you did last night and all the time that you save by not drinking, but one thing has to be said - Life is a lot tamer and predictable without drink.I mean, have I told you the one where I drank a soda water and Orange and went to bed at a reasonable hour? Nah. Because it's a shit story.

The thing about boozy nights out is that you never really know where it is going to take you. You meet interesting characters and go off on crazy adventures that, if there was no booze involved, you'd never really have been on. However, I've got a million boozy war stories to be told and a hell of a lot of them are stories that make me cringe at what went on, so I don't know if I really need any more...come back to me in a little while and we'll see!

Have you ever given up drinking? Let me know in the comments below!

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#booze #nodrink #boozefree #nodrinking #ayearwithnobooze #noalcohol #alcoholfree #GoodMixer #CamdenTown #Rainman #Drinker #Crinks #Party

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